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BlogRocket Mortgage Classic Preview and Picks

Rocket Mortgage Classic

July 2nd – 5th, 2020

Detroit Golf Club

Detroit, MI

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,340

Purse: $7.5 million

with $1,350,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Nate Lashley

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 32 of the top 100 and 18 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings: #6 Webb Simpson, #7 Patrick Reed, #10 Bryson DeChambeau, #15 Tyrrell Hatton, #17 Tony Finau, #22 Sungjae Im, #23 Hideki Matsuyama, #31 Rickie Fowler, #32 Kevin Na, #36 Danny Willett, #38 Kevin Kisner, #40 Erik van Rooyen, #45 Viktor Hovland, #46 Christiaan Bezuidenhout, #47 Rafa Cabrera Bello, #48 Bubba Watson, #49 Matt Wallace and #50 Brandt Snedeker.

Last year the field had 11 of the top-50

The field includes 11 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2020.  Those players are #1 Webb Simpson, #3 Sungjae Im, #5 Patrick Reed, #6 Brendon Todd, #9 Lanto Griffin, #12 Bryson DeChambeau, #14 Kevin Na, #15 Tyrrell Hatton, #16 Hideki Matsuyama, #23 Scottie Scheffler and #25 Nick Taylor.

This is the 2nd year of this event, here are the results from last year’s Rocket Mortgage Classic.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Player Travelers Champ. Utah Champ. RBC Heritage King & Bear Classic Charles Schwab Korn Ferry Challenge Arnold Palmer The Honda Classic WGC-Mexico Championship Puerto Rico Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open
Bryson DeChambeau
(300 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP 2
(50)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T52
(0)
Joseph Bramlett
(221.33 pts)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T9
(15)
T51
(0)
T18
(10.67)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(166 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
Tyrrell Hatton
(164 pts)
DNP DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP T6
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(148.67 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP T15
(11.67)
DNP Win
(66)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP
Viktor Hovland
(139 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP T42
(2.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
Luke List
(123.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP T25
(8.33)
Chris Kirk
(122 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Sungjae Im
(116.5 pts)
T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP 3
(30)
Win
(44)
T29
(10.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T34
(5.33)
Will Gordon
(100 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(10)
DNP DNP DNP
J.T. Poston
(92.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T35
(5)
DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
DNP T37
(4.33)
Kevin Na
(92.5 pts)
5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T9
(22.5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
Kristoffer Ventura
(87.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T49
(1)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(84.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP T7
(55)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T18
(16)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T3
(30)
Wes Roach
(81.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP
Lucas Glover
(79.67 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP
Doc Redman
(70.33 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T62
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
T34
(5.33)
Ben Martin
(70.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP
Rory Sabbatini
(67.67 pts)
DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP T47
(1)
T35
(5)
DNP DNP T59
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Tony Finau
(64 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T33
(17)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP 2
(33.33)
Maverick McNealy
(58.67 pts)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP T32
(18)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T11
(13)
DNP T27
(7.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP
Mark Hubbard
(58.33 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP T33
(17)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T9
(15)
Erik Van Rooyen
(57.33 pts)
DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T3
(45)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Scott Stallings
(55.33 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP T48
(2)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(54.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP T6
(30)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
Patrick Rodgers
(54 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T14
(36)
DNP T24
(8.67)
T21
(9.67)
DNP T35
(5)
T30
(6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(11.33)
Peter Uihlein
(52.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T32
(18)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T44
(2)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Harold Varner III
(52 pts)
T32
(18)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP T36
(4.67)
T42
(2.67)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(51.33 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T16
(17)
DNP T17
(11)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Ryan Armour
(46.67 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP T74
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Patton Kizzire
(40 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP 68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
Kyle Stanley
(39.33 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T3
(30)
T64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Tyler Duncan
(38.67 pts)
T32
(18)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Brian Harman
(38 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1)
DNP DNP T47
(1)
DNP T49
(0.33)
Michael Thompson
(37.33 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 57
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Lanto Griffin
(37.17 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T29
(10.5)
DNP T37
(4.33)
T9
(15)
CUT
(-3.33)
Brendon Todd
(36.17 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP T37
(6.5)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP
Brian Stuard
(36 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP T43
(7)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
66
(0)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Branden Grace
(33.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP 61
(0)
DNP T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(4)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T9
(15)
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
(33.17 pts)
DNP DNP T28
(22)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP T29
(10.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Seung-Yul Noh
(32.33 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Chesson Hadley
(31 pts)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP T23
(27)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T59
(0)
Josh Teater
(30.67 pts)
DNP T36
(14)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Alex Noren
(28.33 pts)
DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T59
(0)
T32
(6)
DNP
Charl Schwartzel
(26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Player Travelers Champ. Utah Champ. RBC Heritage King & Bear Classic Charles Schwab Korn Ferry Challenge Arnold Palmer The Honda Classic WGC-Mexico Championship Puerto Rico Open Genesis Open AT&T Pebble Beach Phoenix Open
Sebastian Cappelen
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
David Hearn
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brian Gay
(-36 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T62
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T38
(4)
CUT
(-3.33)
Kevin Tway
(-35.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T37
(4.33)
Martin Trainer
(-32.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Russell Knox
(-32 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T16
(11.33)
C.T. Pan
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T63
(0)
Bo Van Pelt
(-30 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Andrew Putnam
(-30 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Scott Harrington
(-29 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T47
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Matt Every
(-27.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T32
(6)
CUT
(-3.33)
Vijay Singh
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Wolff
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 54
(0)
DNP T52
(0)
T58
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Ben Taylor
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Michael Gligic
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The big bombshell was the USGA switching TV partners from Fox to NBC.  Between 1995 and 2014, NBC along with Golf Channel was the network that people could watch the USGA.  In 2015 that all changed when the USGA decided money was more important and signed a lucrative deal with Fox.  The first year at Chambers Bay the telecast wasn’t the best, but to be fair they got better after that.  We should have seen the writing on the wall when Fox didn’t bother to give a bid for the PGA Tour contracts, we knew that golf wasn’t that important.  So when Fox ran into programming problems when the U.S. Open and Women’s Open was moved to the fall, Fox had a lot of conflicts with NFL, MLB, and College Football which is their mainstay.  So they asked if they could switch their golf to their cable network Fox Sports 1, and the USGA insisted it had to be the Fox Network.  So what the executives at Fox decided to do is see if either NBC or CBS could take over the package for 2020.  When NBC agreed, Fox saw this as a way to unload what was a financial deadweight on them and asked if NBC would take over the remaining seven years.  They did and NBC got a terrific bargain for the remaining seven years and Fox was happy, despite the deal costing them someplace between $200 to $300 million dollars.

We can say that now everyone is a winner, especially golf fans who will get a lot more coverage in years to come.  Of course, Joe Buck was not very good in the role of anchor, but the rest of the production was ok and in some cases overlooked because of the problem of having Buck and only on the air a limited amount of time.  The big problem with Fox was they couldn’t make their shows seem important, a perfect example of that was programming before a USGA show.  When NBC and Golf Channel had the package, you could watch shows related to the U.S. Open from the moment the sun went up to way after sunrise.  But when Fox took over in 2016 that importance wasn’t there.  They did the shows but didn’t care much of the golf leading up to air time or after the show was over.  So you could be an hour before the first round of the U.S. Open on Fox Sports 1 and watch anything from soccer to lady wrestling and after the shows went off the air, it was NASCAR Racing or the Survivor series.  It was always weird to see Golf Channel be on the air around the clock showcasing the U.S. Open while the host network showcased cheerleaders or some fluff show instead of golf.  The bottom line was Fox never embraced golf and it showed in the way they presented the USGA package.

Oh well, that will all stop and the USGA will be important again with NBC and Golf Channel taking over.

Next week the tour moves to Columbus

for two weeks, the first week will be a new tournament, the Workday Charity Open, and the next week will be the Memorial Tournament.  What will be unique is that both events will be played at Muirfield Golf Club, the home of the Memorial.  This has never been done on the PGA Tour having back to back events on the same course.  We have seen a couple like Pebble Beach or Torrey Pines host an event in January or February and then have the U.S. Open on it four months later.  But the course would be radically different for the U.S. Open.

What Memorial officials are planning on doing is cut the rough down to close to nothing and they will move the blades up on the mowers so that the greens will be drastically slower than usual.  With the greens becoming slower, they will have more pin positions and making the course seem different.  During the tournament, the rough will be allowed to grow and the hope is that in a week, the rough will be tough and longer in time for the Memorial.  They will also have the greens rock hard and lightning fast as they normally are, so hopefully, there will be two different experiences on the same course.  For the players and TV, it will be nice to be in one place for two weeks.  For the first week of the Workday Charity, there won’t be any fans allowed, just like it’s been the previous three weeks and this week in Detroit.  But the following week will be the first time fans will be allowed on the course as they are looking to have 8,000 fans each day.  It will be just another step in trying to get things back to normal again.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic

This was a tournament that was in the making for over a decade.  Between 1958 and 2009 the Detroit area had the Buick Open, which was played at Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club in Grand Blanc about an hour from Detroit.  It was a great event that was well supported but was in the wrong place at the wrong time with sponsors that had major problems.  With the auto industry caving in with the global financial meltdown in 2008 the area was dying quickly.  Not only was the auto industry in need of a federal bailout, but those associated with the auto industry was also struggling and the community was struggling with tens of thousands losing their job.  So corporate dollars disappeared as Michigan was trying to just survive.

So the Buick Open died on the vine, the last one was played in 2009 with Tiger Woods winning but a couple of folks associated with Detroit Golf Club saw the dream of having the PGA Tour return and play at Detroit Golf Club.

Those folks worked hard in not only finding a sponsor but getting the PGA Tour interested in returning to Michigan.  While this was happening Detroit Golf Club went through several renovation projects to modernize the course and make it worthy of hosting the best professionals in golf.  While they were working on the club, the PGA Tour checked in and liked what they were doing and around 2016 said that the course and the area were worthy of a PGA Tour event.  But just getting the PGA Tour to approve it didn’t mean they would get a tournament.  They needed two things, first a heavy-duty sponsor willing to commit over $12 million to the cause and they had to find an open date, which was just as hard to obtain than a sponsor.  The folks from Detroit weren’t the only ones looking for a date, there are groups from Minnesota, St. Louis, Denver and the Seattle area looking for the same thing.

What happened was a stroke of luck for the folks at Detroit Golf club.  Quicken Loans was sponsoring Tiger Woods Washington D.C. event but since Quicken Loans was based in Detroit they were looking to move to a tournament into their home base.  So the PGA Tour did some match-making and put the folks of Detroit Golf Club with the folks of Quicken Loans and the decision was made two years ago to utilize the date of the Washington D.C. tournament to Detroit.  When the Woods folks couldn’t secure a sponsor the event was dead in D.C. and basically moved to Detroit.

Now when people think about Detroit, they don’t associate having a golf tournament in a city that has been ravished with problems.  But the area is getting better, more non-auto industry money is moving in and Detroit is getting better.  And they do love their golf, and last year they sold out all days of the Rocket Mortgage and ran a very successful tournament.  After last year in which Nate Lashley ran away with a six-shot victory, the hope was to grow this event even more.

All those plans went out the window when the country shut down with COVID-19 in March.  When it looked in May as the tour could get started again in June, the Tour got together with the folks that ran the Rocket Mortgage.  Tournament officials didn’t want to lose the momentum that was built in the first year, but at the same time realized the problems of having a tournament with no fans, which meant less for their charity.  The PGA Tour gave them the choice of holding the tournament or taking the year off and they decided to hold the event.  At the same time they decided to change the charity structure tow one in which Detroit residents gained access to technology, internet, and digital-literacy resources something that the city needed.  With the new plan Rocket Mortgage kicked in more money and they had a worthwhile project.

The important thing is that they are learning how to better run a tournament and will get more information so that the 2021 event will be bigger and better.

Course information:
  • Detroit Golf Club
  • Detroit, Mich.
  • 7,340 yards     Par 36-36–72

The start of the Detroit Golf Club was in 1899 when a six-hole course was built.  In 1914 the club bought a large parcel of land and hired Donald Ross, at the time an up and coming golf architect to build two 18-hole courses.  In 1916 the new courses were open for play.  At the time of opening the club hired Albert Kahn to build them a clubhouse and he built one of the grandness buildings that opened in 1918 and today is a landmark building.

In the beginning, it was the place to play, Henry Ford became a member in 1915, his son joined and other dignitaries of Detroit joined.  Ross’ brother Alec who won the 1907 U.S. Open was the club’s first head professional and was at the club between 1918 and 1945.  He was replaced by Horton Smith, who won the first two Masters and he was the club’s pro until his death in 1963.  He was replaced by another PGA tour player, Detroit native Walter Burkemo.  After him, George  Baker was the pro, in the 50s and 60s Bayer won on the PGA Tour and was considered the longest hitter of the day.

When it was determined in 2006 that the Detroit Golf Club wanted a PGA Tour event, they accessed the course and realized the course needed to be updated to create a challenge for the best players in the world.  So the club approved changes to be made in four stages in 2006, 2010, 2012, and 2014.  They decided not to change the character of the two Donald Ross courses but hired Bruce Hepner to update the course.  At the end of the day very little was needed on the North Course which will use 17 of its holes for the Rocket Mortgage.  The 3rd hole will use the 1st hole of the South course so technically it will be a composite course.

The course is famous for its tree-lined fairways but the greens are what get must of the attention.  They average 5,500 square feet so they are small by PGA Tour standards and have 41 of the courses 87 bunkers protecting them.  What makes the greens hard is the undulations, along with the fact that many of the greens are tiered with different levels making it important the put your shot to the green in the right position.  Another problem for the players, a lot of the greens are raised so if a green is missed it means a pitch is in order instead of chipping the ball, again another skill set that isn’t practiced very much.  The course is tree-lined but for the most part, has generous fairways to hit.  The Detroit area has had an abundance of rain in the last month so the not only is the course very lush, but the rough has had time to grow and become very lush which will make it hard to get some shots to the green.  The course did go through an upgrade in the last decade to make it harder for PGA Tour caliber players, but with straight holes, most of the long-hitters have a chance to overpower the course.

The course will be in its second year and players now know a lot about it.  Tournament officials for this year decided to make the course tougher by letting the rough grow, hopefully, this will make it tougher.  Still, in the minds of half the field, the course will be fresh and new, this will continue to help those players whose game may not be sharp coming into the tournament

Many wondered last year if the course would be perfect for the long hitters, probably since it’s length at 7,340 is a bit short, but with straight fairways that had limited rough the only true hazard was the 30 fairway bunkers and in most cases, they are shallow and will be easy to get out of.  Still just like last year in looking for a winner it probably will be the player you least expect who are on the cusp of finding their game-winning this week a lot like Nate Lashley did last year.

 

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at Detroit Golf Club.

This is based on the most vital stats from Detroit Golf Club, based on data from last year’s Rocket Mortgage and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2020.
Last year was the first year of the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the first time Detroit Golf Club was used in a PGA Tour tournament. Normally the PGA Tour is always careful in setting up a tournament in its the first year and despite the fact that Detroit could be set up very hard it wasn’t, the par 72 layout played to a 70.11 average making it the 42nd hardest (of 49) course on the PGA Tour. So to combat the low scoring, officials are letting the rough grow much thicker and longer, which means players will have to drive the ball straighter to avoid putting it in a tough position. Now last year the weather was perfect with high temperatures and low wind. Since there are no fans and grandstands, the course will be harder as players will hit balls into places that haven’t had fans stomp the ground down, again a bit tougher. A new tee was built on a hole and 22 yards will be added as the course will play 7,340 yards long. Still, these changes won’t help a course that will see great weather, no wind, and players with a year of experience on the course

Look for another birdie fest, last year 1,895 birdies were made on the course as only one other course in 2019 had more (TPC Twin Cities-1,976).

In looking at our four categories, we have to think very differently. First, we will use Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee in which it looks at the combination of length of drive off the tee and accuracy. Last year the average drive was 304.0 yards and ranked 42nd meaning that only four other courses on the Tour saw longer driving averages. As for accuracy off the tee, the course was 30th with 64.48% of the drives in the fairway. Looking at last year’s winner Nate Lashley, he ranked 44th in Driving Distance and T-11th in Accuracy so he ranked T-29th in Strokes Gained Off-the-Tee.
Our 2nd category is Greens in Regulation. This is a Donald Ross course so we know that Ross greens are always hard to hit. On top of that, the greens are also small at 5,100 and are raised so they are tough to get on. So for last year, Detroit Golf Club was ranked 40th on tour with 72.52% of the greens hit. So this shows that a lot of players hit the greens last year. The winner Lashley hit 59 of 72 for 84.94% which ranked T-4th. Ted Potter, Jr. hit the most greens, 61 of the 72, and finished T-5th.
Our 3rd category is Strokes Gained Putting which is an important part of the game. Last year the putting average at Detroit Golf Club was 1.629 which ranked T-17th. It averaged 29.33 putts per round which ranked it T-15th and in the important inside ten feet it ranked 17th. Lashley took 106 putts which ranked 2nd and in Strokes Gained Putting he was also 2nd. In the important putts made inside 10 feet, Lashley made 64 of 68 and ranked 4th.
The last category is Par Breakers. As we said earlier in this piece 1,895 birdies were made on the course, only one course on tour last year had more birdies. It had a total of 40 eagles, which ranked T-33rd at it ranked 38th in Par Breakers. Lashley made the most birdies of anyone in the field, 28 so his Par Breakers rank is 1st. Now Lashley had a lot of success on the Latinoamerica tour in 2016 before spending two years on the Korn Ferry Tour. Before his victory in Detroit Lashley only had one top-ten on the PGA Tour and that was a T-8th at the 2019 Puerto Rico Open. Since his win in Detroit last year, Lashley has had a pair of 3rd place finishes this year, first at the Miltary Tribute at Greenbrier and at Phoenix. Since that finish, Lashley has struggled not making a check in his last five starts. Of those that finished in the top-ten last year at the Rocket Mortgage, Rory Sabbatini (T-3rd), Ted Potter, Jr (T-5th), Brandt Snedeker (T-5th) and Brian Stuard (T-5th) have won while Patrick Reed and Joaquin Niemann (both T-5th) have won since last year’s Rocket Mortgage.

*Strokes Gained Off-to-Tee: Combination of distance off the tee and accuracy.

*Greens in Regulation: Number of greens hit in regulation.

*Strokes Gained Putting: Gives the equivalent to putting based on strokes gained or lost

*Par Breakers: Who makes the most birdies and eagles per round.

Of the 156 players in the field, 145 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2020.

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is a link to the other 135 stats for 2020 and the Rocket Mortgage

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $11,700
  • Webb Simpson – $11,000
  • Tyrrell Hatton – $10,700
  • Patrick Reed – $10,500
  • Hideki Matsuyama – $10,200
  • Viktor Hovland – $10,000
  • Sungjae Im – $9,800
  • Rickie Fowler – $9,500
  • Tony Finau – $9.300
  • Bubba Watson – $9,200
  • Kevin Na – $9,100
  • Scottie Scheffler – $9,000

For most of the players in the field this is a new course and tournament, so be careful just like with Nate Lashley last year we may see another surprise winner, someone that you least expected to win.

Looking at those for DraftKings, on the surface have to say Bryson DeChambeau is expensive at $11,700 but it’s a fair price.  In the last three weeks, he has done everything right, except for winning and frankly don’t see that very far off.  In looking at his stats for the year, they are all perfect for Detroit GC and he is a true favorite.  Does that mean you have to pick him this week, probably.  The reason, just like last week I picked him and he was T-6th, which is a disappointment, but he earned 102 Draftking points which made him the 11th highest point winner of the week, so that is always important.  Now Webb Simpson is $11,000 and many will think he is worth it.  On paper, he is in stats he is off the chart and he won at the Heritage two weeks ago, but he still didn’t play last week with the possibility of either him or his family having COVID-19, so you may have to take that in mind.  Honestly wedged in between DeChambeau and Hatton, those two are a bunch better choice over Simpson so I am passing on him this week.  As I said, Tyrrell Hatton is high at $10,700 but well worth the price.  He has the best stats of anyone in the field this week and in his only start back from the break was T-3rd at Harbour Town.  Oh, all three of these players didn’t play last year in the Rocket Mortgage.  One player that did was Patrick Reed at  $10,500, he finished T-5th last year.  You all by now should know I am not a big Patrick Reed fan so I apologize off the bat.  Reed is strong off the tee and in putting, weak in hitting greens, still, I am going to pass on him.  Hideki Matsuyama is $10,200, he played ok last year finishing T-13th at Detroit GC.  The two problems I have with him he has shown is a balky putter and in his only start back missed the cut at Heritage on a course he should have done well on, so I am passing on him.  Viktor Hovland at $10,000 intrigues me, yes the price is high, but all the indicators say he is a good risk.  He has played well since the break and made a lot of DraftKings points in his three starts since the break ok playing 10 of his 12 rounds under par at 35 under par, he was best last week at the Travelers finished T-11th and was T-13th last year at Detroit GC, so yes he is a good pick.  Sungjae Im at $9,800 bothers me, yes he was ok last year finishing T-21st.  His stats are ok for the year but since his T-10th at Colonial has struggled to miss the cut at Heritage and finishing T-58th last week, so take a pass on him.  Same with Rickie Fowler at $9,500.  I heard one expert on Golf Channel saying he was working hard on his game in Palm Beach, but that was more of a cliché, like trying to find a nice thing to say about Rickie. But the truth be told, other than looking good at the Skins game Fowler hasn’t done well since the break, missing the cut at both Colonial and Harbour Town.  He finished T-46th last year at the Detroit GC but there has been some quiet talk last week that he possibly was around Brooks Koepka caddie Ricky Elliot who tested positive for COVID-19 so I would just take a pass on him, it’s just not worth it. Now Tony Finau at $9,300 is also too high, he hasn’t impressed us in his return and on a course he should have done ok on last week, missed the cut at The Travelers.  Also, take a pass on Bubba Watson at $9,200.  Maybe because he burned me by missing the cut at the Travelers last week, but he missed the cut last year at the Rocket Mortgage, and other than his T-7th at Colonial has been mediocre since.  Kevin Na at $9,100 is one to look at, he has never played in this event but was 5th at the Travelers and his yearly stats are ok.  Scottie Scheffler at $9,000 is a toss-up, he stats especially Par Breakers is good, but he hasn’t impressed upon me this year with a T-55th at Colonial and missed cut last week at the Travelers.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

I like J.T. Poston at $8,700.  He was T-11th last year, his stats are decent and despite missing the cut last week at The Travelers was T-8th at Heritage and T-10th at Charles Schwab.  By sleeper pick of the week is Doc Redman at $8,500.  He was 2nd last year at Detroit GC, from tee to green he is perfect for the course and if he can make a few putts will do well.  His game has improved each time he plays, he was T-58th at Colonial, T-21st at Harbour Town and T-11th at Travelers including a final round 63.  Also, like Lucas Glover at $8,400.  I have to say he is one of those quiet picks on Draftkings because he makes a lot of cuts and makes a lot of birdies.  For this week he has played well since the break finishing T-23rd at Colonial, T-21st at Heritage and T-20th at Travelers.  You can’t go wrong with Adam Hadwin at $8,200, he has finished T-43rd at Colonial and T-41st at Heritage.  For the year his stats are really high showing that he can play well at Detroit GC.  Brandt Snedeker is $7,900 and someone you should think of.  Was T-5th last year at the Rocket Mortgage and despite missing the cut at Heritage had some good moments at Travelers finishing T-41st.  Brendon Todd is $7,800 and could be worth a try.  He missed the cut at Colonial and Harbour Town, but did play great for three rounds at the Travelers, yes he shot a final round 75 but still finished T-11th.  Scott Stallings at $7,500 is another to look at, he was T-5th last year at Detroit G.C. and his stats are ok for this week.  I also like the fact that he played great at Travelers finishing T-6th.

Some of the “bargains” this week at the Travelers

Everyone in this category is a bargain, I wouldn’t be surprised if the winner can be bought for under $7,500.  Last year’s winner Nate Lashley was priced at $6,600, bet not many people took him.  One of those could be Brian Stuard at $7,400, he was T-5th last year and since the break has made the cut in all three events,  T-43rd at Colonial, T-52nd at Heritage and T-20th at Travelers.  Another player to watch is Wes Roach who last year was $7,300 and finished T-3rd.  Guess what, again he is $7,300 and even though he hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since missing the cut at Honda, was 5th at the King & Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour.  Another player to watch is Will Gordon at $7,300.  This 23-year-old is just starting his career and shot 66-62-71-64 to finish T-3rd and is playing this week for the first time in this event.  Another great longshot is Mark Hubbard at $7,200, he has made the cut in all three of his starts since the break so anything could happen. What about Tyler Duncan at $7,000, he missed the cut last year but has made all three cuts since the break. Have to watch Patton Kizzire at $6,900, yes he missed the cut last year in the Rocket Mortgage and missed the cut at Colonial and Heritage, but bounced back to finish T-6th at the Travelers and look like a superstar.  Last we reluctantly see Ted Potter, Jr. at $6,200, yes there is a reason for him being so low.  It wasn’t because he finished T-5th last year and looked like a superstar. We see he can have some good finishes being T-7th at Sony Open in Hawaii and T-6th at Puerto Rico.  Since he has missed the cut in all four of his starts including last week at Travelers and will be looking to regain some of his game this week.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Rocket Mortgage:

The key stat for the winner:

Like every other Donald Ross course, a shotmaker will rule.  Those that hit it long and straight will have an advantage, but for a player to win he has to have pinpoint accuracy in shots to the green to put the ball in the right place for that right putt.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

To find that hidden gem, look at those that have played well in the three events since the break and also did well last year at the Rocket Mortgage.  I would avoid these players this week since they have missed the cut in all three events since the break:  Brian Gay, Danny Willett, Kevin Tway, Kyoung-Hoon Lee and Russell Knox.

Of all the players that have made the cut in all of the last three events, these 14 are key.  The ones in bold are the ones playing this week:

Bryce DeChambeau – T-3rd Colonial, T-8th Heritage & T-6th Travelers (Playing at Rocket Mortgage)

Ancer – T-14th Colonial, 2nd Heritage & T-11th Travelers

Viktor Hovland – T-23rd Colonial, T-21 Heritage & T-11th Travelers (Playing at Rocket Mortgage)

Lucas Glover – T-23rd Colonial, T-21st Heritage & T-20th Travelers (Playing at Rocket Mortgage)

McIlory – T-32nd Colonial, T-41st Heritage & T-11th Travelers

Joel Dahman – T-19th Colonial, T-48th Heritage & T-20th Travelers

Xander Schauffele – T-3rd Schwab, T-64th Heritage & T-20th Travelers

Doc Redman – T-58th Colonial, T-21st Heritage & T-11th Travelers (may want to watch him at Rocket, he was runner-up last year)

Joaquin Niemann – T-32nd Colonial, T-5th Heritage & 63rd Travelers (Was T-5th last year at Rocket but not playing this week)

Tyler Duncan – T-38th Colonial, T-28th Heritage & T-32nd Travelers (Playing at Rocket Mortgage)

Jhonattan Vegas – T-60th Colonial, T-17th Heritage & T-24th Travelers

Ian Poulter – T-29th Colonial, T-14th Heritage & 64th Travelers

Brian Stuard – T-43rd Colonial, T-52nd Heritage & T-20th Travelers (Playing at Rocket Mortgage, was T-5th last year)

Mark Hubbard – T-43rd Colonial, T-33rd Heritage & T-37th Travelers (Playing at Rocket Mortgage)

  • The player with the least amount of putts in the 3 to 12-foot range will win.  So look for those who are the best on tour making putts inside ten feet.
  • In most cases, it will be hard to hit all of the greens so scrambling will come into play and could save those that aren’t that precise with shots to the green.
  • Don’t automatically pick one of the marquee names like Bryce DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler or Webb Simpson, look for those players whose games have improved the last couple of weeks just like Doc Redman or Viktor Hovland.
  • The four par 5s are between 552 and 635 yards in length, but only one of the greens are guarded by a lake (14) and since all of them are straightaway, I can see players doing well on them.  Last year winner Nate Lashley was 10 under on them as 15 players were in double digits as the field was 4.61 on the par 5s, which ranked 26th on tour.
  • Weather will be perfect for the whole week and winds will be calm, so again should be perfect for low scoring.

Who to watch for at the Rocket Mortgage Classic

Best Bets:

Tyrrell Hatton

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Think he will master the course the best and play great. Has shown us a lot since his win at the Palmer.

Bryson DeChambeau

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

This is a course he should eat up and play great on. Look for him to break out with a possible win.

Viktor Hovland

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T13

This could be the week for him to break out, this course is perfect for him.

Best of the rest:

Webb Simpson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Should be a lot of interest on him, but he didn’t play last week because he was worried about getting the virus, will his game be sharp? That will be the big question.

Kevin Na

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Have to think about him on this kind of course, he quietly finished 5th at Travelers last week.

Patrick Reed

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5

His game is sharp and should be good for him if he gets his putter going to hard to beat.

Scottie Scheffler

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

His stats are good for Detroit Golf Club, but he needs to play better than he has since the break.

Hideki Matsuyama

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T13

A lot of interest on him, but his game may not be sharp right now.

Bubba Watson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT

Should be good on this course, but I was disappointed that he missed the cut at the Travelers.

The kind of sleeper picks who could win this week:

Doc Redman

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
2

Was runner-up last year in this event and finished T-11th at Travelers, could spell something special for this week.

Scott Stallings

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T64

Was T-5th last year and was T-6th last week at Travelers.J.T. Poston

Brendon Todd

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Played great at the Travelers, could he bounce back from that final round 75?

Mark Hubbard

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Has made the cut in all three events since the break.

Brian Stuard

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T5

He also was T-5th last year at Rocket Mortgage and has made the cut in all three events since the break.

Long shots that could come through:

Lucas Glover

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

We know has the game from tee to green to win, but will his putter help him?

Wes Roach

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T3

Was T-3rd last year and 5th at the King & Bear Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour.

Will Gordon

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Looking to show that last week wasn’t a fluke and he belongs on the PGA Tour.

Worried about them:

Rickie Fowler

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T46

Just think that too much is on his plate right now, his game hasn’t been sharp since Skins Game in May.

Jason Day

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Still is nothing but a shell of what he used to be, did have four solid rounds at the Travelers but hasn’t shown that old Jason Day style of golf.

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